Saturday, 24 November 2012

Korean Cowboys? (Re-review)

Yesterday I put together an archive page of all the things I'd written on this blog. Whilst I did this I read back through some old blog posts and realised how bad some of them were. Here I am wanting to promote my blog and it has some terrible reviews. So, I've decided to re-review a few. Particularly ones on films that I want people to read about. Today's film is a western with a twist: it is Korean. It is a tribute to classic westerns, particularly The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, but it it is its own movie entirely. This is The Good, The Bad, The Weird. (Original review, should you want to compare, is here)

The plot plays tribute to the overall story from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Well, at its most basic level. Three men, one treasure. Leading to the treasure is a treasure map which is in the bag of a very important banker on a train somewhere. On that train is Yoon Tae-goo (Kang-ho Song), otherwise known as The Weird, with the intention of stealing a load of money from this banker. Also on the train is bounty hunter, Park Do-won (Woo-sung Jung), The Good, trying to make some money by catching criminals, like Yoon Tae-goo. Planning to stop the train is Park Chang-yi (Byung-hun Lee), The Bad, and his thugs in order to get his hands on the map. Havoc breaks out and, somehow, Yoon Tae-goo (The Weird) gets away with the map. Cue a wild goose chase to get the map and the treasure: the three men constantly battling for the map as well as being pursued by the Japanese Army and Chinese Bandits. With too many battles to count, who will get there first, and alive, to claim the treasure?

The expression, 'You're screwed,' springs to mind.

When the film was announced, fans of Korean action were sceptical towards Byung-hun Lee playing the bad, borderline psychopath, Park Chang-yi. Their worries were completely ungrounded. Lee does not just nail the role, he encapsulates it. He makes it his own. If there is ever an American remake of the film, there is no one who could capture the role quite like Lee. He is cruel, brutal, smart, vengeful, and sexy. He strikes a perfect balance with his co-stars. Both he and Jung (The Good) are calm, cool, and collected which contrasts wonderfully with Song's manic, weird, and crazy performance as Yoon Tae-goo. Song brings most of the comedy to the film, dodging bullets with a divers helmet, getting offended that his bounty is only the amount of a used piano. He never slips from his excitable persona but there is clearly something deeper, more psychotic there. Finally, Woo-sung Jung is the coolest of the bunch. Swinging through the skies on a rope firing at Chinese thugs, it doesn't get much cooler than that. He never raises his voice or does anything extreme, but at all times it seems that he is the one in charge. His interaction with Song's Weird shows his power, smarts, and also his wit.

'How to Look Good Whilst Killing' The latest novel from Park Chang-yi

Direction from Jee-woon Kim is possibly the most underrated that cinema has to offer. There is no film shot quite like The Good, the Bad, The Weird. Cameras follow the action closely but also give a feeling that the audience are involved. Spinning camera shots through action creates the illusion the the audience are now right there, experiencing it through a first person perspective. Not only this, but a lot of it is simply beautifully shot. The men riding through the desert on horses or motorbikes, shooting one another over long empty landscapes, riding horses at sunset, everything is just astounding. The script, too, is something that is completely underrated. It may be due to the language barrier but not only is it hilarious, it is also peculiarly philosophical - "People must know that they’re going to die, and yet they live as though they never will. Hilarious." There's a brilliant moment near the beginning in which the Chinese thugs are overlooking the chaos on the train and discuss how they have no clue what is happening. A very funny moment. Also, listen out for the tribute to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly's iconic score during the visually breathtaking chase scene near the end. Super.

An incredible example of foreign films being better than a lot of the films that Hollywood produces. Specifically, it looks at remakes not being the only option for great films. This film is a tribute that has a similar base plot to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, but solidifies itself as a classic without actually remaking the film it adores. A must see. If you're put off by the idea of subtitles, you are missing out horribly. Do a bit of reading and watch this fantastic film.

Best Bit? Well, it'll have to be the final chase scene. Everything about it is awesome. It is on such a massive scale, and yet it is easy to follow all the individual characters as they fight. Simply brilliant.

1 comment: